Sony Goes Both Ways with HD Camcorders

This year’s rage amongst consumer camcorders is all about shooting high-definition video—but part of the dilemma is choosing a video format? Existing solutions have been shooting in HDV format, but several manufacturers have been backing the AVCHD format, based on MPEG-4 video. But Sony doesn’t want you to put off the purchase of an HD camcorder to capture your precious moments because of a silly little format war: instead, they’ve got both sides covered, with its UX line of camcorders storing video in HDV format, and the new HC series supporting AVCHD.

The UX line is represented by the HDR-UX5 and HDR-UX7 The HDR-UX5 records 1080i video (with 5.1 surround sound) to 3-inch DVDs with a 2.1 megapixel CMOS sensor&mdash (still images are four megapixels). The camera sports a 2.7-inch LCD viewfinder, a MemoryStick Duo media slot, image stabilization, and 10× optical zoom. Moving on up, the HDR-UX7 sports a 3 megapixel CMOS sensor (offering 6.1 megapixel stills), 10× optical/20× digital zoom, a 3.5-inch LCD viewfinder, and records to the same 3-inch DVDs. Expect the UX5 to be priced at $999.99 and the UX7 to go for $1,299.99 when they hit retailers this February.

On the HDV side of the fence, the HDR-HC5 records video to MiniDV cassettes, offers a 10×optical/80× digital zoom, but otherwise looks familiar with a 2.7-inch LCD viewfinder, and uses a 2.1 megapixel CMOS sensor. Users can capture four megapixel still images to MemoryStick Duo media, but, sadly, no surround-sound audio capture is available. (Because, really, listening to the camera’s motor from five directions at once is…indescribable.) The HDR-HC-7 jumps up to a 3.2 megapixel CMOS sensor and offers Sony’s Super NightShot Infrared system for shooting those important documentaries in low-light conditions. Expect the HC7 to land at retailers in February for $1,399.99; the HC5 will arrive about the same time for $1,099.99.

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